SAN FRANCISCO (CNN/Money) -
Hewlett-Packard chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina will be a busy woman over the next few months. On top of running a multibillion-dollar company, she just signed on to newly elected California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's transition committee.
In a statement announcing her appointment, Fiorina said, "The state is facing a unique and extraordinary set of challenges and opportunities that demand the involvement of all of us to address them. It's time for everyone to pull together to improve California's competitiveness."
Fiorina's joining Schwarzenegger's team is a fine example of that "pulling together": HP (HPQ: Research, Estimates) donated $5,000 to Democratic candidate Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante's campaign during the recall election, according to California Common Cause's RecallMoneyWatch.com.
The California tech community was divided on the issue of the recall. AT&T (T: Research, Estimates) gave $100,000 to an organization called Californians Against the Costly Recall of the Governor, and $21,200 to Bustamante. AT&T Wireless (AWE: Research, Estimates) gave $10,000 to CACRG.
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Other tech-related political action committees and member organizations such as Silicon Valley Advisors, Silicon Valley Leadership PAC, and Technology Network California PAC also donated against the recall and for Bustamante.
But some of the Valley's most deep-pocketed moneymen supported Schwarzenegger's efforts. Venture capitalists Tim Draper, Vinod Khosla, and Ray Lane each contributed $20,000 or more to Schwarzenegger, and former Netscape CEO turned VC Jim Barksdale contributed $10,000 to his campaign. The California Manufacturers and Technology Association broke with its 85-year tradition of not endorsing candidates and threw its weight behind Schwarzenegger this time around.
"Arnold has made it clear that there's a lot of work to be done," says Gino DiCarlo, communications director for the organization. "The tech community is optimistic that the business climate will improve under him."
Now that the dust has settled on the historic election, the tech industry must unite to push through a number of tech-related issues it hopes the new governor will address in his stated goal of making the state more "business-friendly."
And even though the computer equipment and services sector placed eighth in terms of political donations to Schwarzenegger, the state's high-tech sector accounts for 13 percent of California's gross state product and 17 percent of all high-tech goods and services produced in the United States.
Of course, trying to discern what exactly Schwarzenegger will do as governor is guesswork at this stage.
"This campaign was run on pretty general themes," acknowledges Rick White, CEO of TechNet, a technology lobbying organization. "But the general, more business-friendly tone was music to our ears."
A top priority for the California tech community, which includes such heavy hitters as Cisco Systems (CSCO: Research, Estimates), eBay (EBAY: Research, Estimates), HP, Intel (INTC: Research, Estimates), and Yahoo! (YHOO: Research, Estimates), is revisiting the defeated Manufacturers Investment Credit proposal. Enacting this measure would have a positive effect on California tech-company investors as well, since the proposal grants companies a faster depreciation schedule for information technology hardware purchases.
The state's tech leaders are also warily eyeing the Protective Orders Bill, which could potentially make trade secrets public during the discovery process of a lawsuit. A TechNet representative says his organization will ask the new governor to veto the bill, and will seek to enact new legislation to counteract AB 68 and SB 590, two recent privacy bills that the group feels are discriminatory to online companies.
So now the California tech sector must wait for the specifics to emerge from the Schwarzenegger camp. And despite the sector's considerable clout, it must wait in the lobby like everyone else.
Though Schwarzenegger promises to make the state more business-friendly, his Web site shows that he could use a little technical assistance: The only e-mail address given to the public (firstname.lastname@example.org) doesn't work.
Editor's note: When this column originally ran it contained the following error: that both Hewlett-Packard and Technology Network California PAC donated $5,000 to Cruz Bustamante's 2003 election campaign. In fact, both organizations donated to Bustamante in 1998. According to California Common Cause, Bustamante held on to the donations and reallocated money to his 2003 recall campaign election fund.
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